It took them a little longer than the rest of the National Football League, but the Buffalo Bills finally signed their first-round draft pick Friday.
But, then, the Bills are used to bringing up the rear. The guy who’s supposed to change all that is C.J. Spiller, one of the most productive running backs in college football history.
Spiller scored a touchdown in every game last season at Clemson, but it might prove more difficult with the impotent Bills who haven’t been in the post-season since 1999.
So, it was imperative that Spiller become familiar with new coach Chan Gailey and build some rapport with quarterback Trent Edwards after missing a week of camp. The running back agreed to a five-year, $25-million US contract with $20.5 million guaranteed. Spiller can earn a maximum of $37.5 million.
That left Seattle’s Russell Okung as the only first-round pick unsigned, but the tackle agreed to a guaranteed $30 million deal later in the day.
Spiller will join Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch in the Buffalo backfield. Rather crowded. Speculation has already begun that the team will trade one of them. Obviously it won’t be Spiller and Jackson is expected to open the season as the starter. That would leave Lynch expendable. Seattle, St. Louis and Denver are believed to have an interest with Buffalo looking for draft picks or help on the offensive line.
Okung, the No. 6 overall pick, is expected to be a starter on Seattle’s offensive line.
Meanwhile, Texans owner Bob McNair admitted his team is interested in former Buffalo defensive end Aaron Schobel. Until now, the only ones who hadn’t admitted knowing that were the Texans and Schobel.
But now that the Bills have officially released him, everyone can stop pretending.
Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson and Redskins’ DeAngelo Hall believe Roger Goodell is spreading something on his tour of NFL camps, but it isn’t good will.
“The owners fully intend to lock us out,” Hutchinson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “That’s why they negotiated a TV contract that would pay them with the lockout happening (next year). They fully wanted this to happen because they made sure they were going to be compensated if in fact there was no season played.”
Goodell’s tour was supposed to foster good will. Instead he’s sounding like Roger The Dodger according to Hall, who called the meeting a “total waste of time...He’s walking around kissing babies, you know, shaking hands, and he just wants to say that the owners are over here, the players are over here and I’m in the middle, I’m for the game. But to ask him a question about anything, he couldn’t answer.”
Redskins’ union rep London Fletcher appears frustrated at Goodell’s perceived waffling. “He opened up the ability for us to ask him questions,” Fletcher said. “If you open up that ability then you have to be prepared to answer ... and guys had some real questions that we wanted hard answers to. He didn’t really answer. He didn’t give us sound answers on a lot of the issues.”
Albert Haynesworth was reported to be “flying” on the treadmill but he didn’t even try to pass his conditioning test.
The MRI on his knee showed no structural damage but Haynesworth didn’t attempt to pass coach Mike Shanahan’s conditions so he could begin practising with his teammates. Some are suggesting that Haynesworth can run — when he wants to — and that it’s all part of the gamesmanship between him and Shanahan.
There are reports that team management is considering going to court to recoup some of the money it paid Haynesworth. However, considering he has shown up for camp and is being kept from practising not by choice, but by his coach’s directive, that could be a futile gesture. It also wouldn’t get Haynesworth back on the field any sooner.
Chewing the fat
“I didn’t lose any weight over the last few days. Let’s put it that way.” — Goodell, on travelling with John Madden on the Madden Cruiser during his training camp tour.
The Colts’ practised Thursday night. More than 6,000 fans turned out. Evidently Toronto Maple Leafs fans are the only ones who believe watching people sweat is an official spectator sport. Who knew? ... Walt Harris’ 14-year career seems at an end. The 36-year-old cornerback was cut by the Ravens, a team desperate for help in the secondary. Baltimore signed undrafted rookie Chris Hawkins to replace Harris ... Another undrafted player, LeGarrette Blount, has had a strong camp trying to supplant Javon Ringer as Chris Johnson’s backup in Tennessee ... Cowboys’ defensive end Marcus Spears has a sprained knee ligament and will be sidelined four to six weeks ... Detroit, trying to shore up one of the worst defences in league history, is attempting to pry safety Jarrad Page from the Chiefs. Kansas City might be willing now that it appears draft pick Eric Berry is going to be as good as advertised ... Jags rookie defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith will require surgery on his Achilles tendon, and might miss the entire season.